Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Hannibal, Missouri Behind my Lens

A few shots from my recent "Girls Trip" to Hannibal, Missouri - beautiful little small-town America destination;  most tours and locations are suitable for children of all ages.

Sunset from the Mark Twain Riverboat Dinner Cruise

Train Bridge over the Mississippi River

Rockcliffe Mansion

Inside Rockcliffe Mansion

Mansion beside Rockliffe Mansion
Inside Mark Twain Cave

Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse

Becky's House part of the Mark Twain’s boyhood home

View from Lover's Leap

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Best Hikes With Kids - St. Louis and Beyond by Kathy Schrenk

(Disclosure:  I was gifted this book for review, however, my thoughts cannot be bought and all opinions are mine.) 

Eighty-two kid friendly hikes just a short distant from St Louis, Missouri - with full graphic maps, tips, and all you need to know about the trip.

Nope, this is not my article, this is the handy book Best Hikes With Kids - St. Louis and Beyond by
Kathy Schrenk.

You know those handy little map brochures that you pick one up at the nature center, carry around for a day, and then shove them in your glove box of your car, and it is ripped to shreds before you can use it again?  Imagine all that compacted in a small book that you can carry around - only add another 81 trails with it.

So I love this little book, yes for real, it is a compact book that is easy store.  The maps are well detailed and Schrenk takes extra time to add in family hiking tips - rather to use strollers, if the trail is easy for toddlers, bathroom availability, and which season is best to visit the hiking trails.

Have you ever heard of Howell Island Conservation Area?  Did you know that Howell Island Conservation Area has a 3.9 mile loop that is jogging stroller accessible?  Me either!  That is this entire book - full of hiking trails that are rarely known and very close to the St. Louis, Missouri area.

You can get your own copy of Best Hikes With Kids - St. Louis and Beyond by Kathy Schrenk by following this link.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Bittersweet of Chaos and an Unexpected Change of Plans

Over the past two months I have been bracing myself to be traveling a large part of the summer for
work.  Two Friday's past just hours before the end of the work day and two days before I left for my
first work trip I received notice that my trip was cancelled and they were unsure about the rest of my work trips for the summer - the following Wednesday I was informed those trips were also cancelled with no notice of when they would be rescheduled.

Knowing the juggling act I had performed making arrangements for myself, my family, and those that depend on me - I became angry.  I sulked, I spouted off negative comments, and I was frustrated at the situation.  Yes, not traveling would be more convenient for me, but I prefer my life organized, so I was bitter.  

Today, in the ladies restroom at church, a wise woman that has taken special interest in my life asked about the upcoming chaos of the travel I had been preparing for - as I explained that everything had been cancelled and I was unsure when or if it would be scheduled - she could hear the frustration in my voice (it was still there).  She said "Ya know, God has a better appointment for you this week, you just watch and see".

I have no clue what God has in store for me this week, but those words were a sweet reminder that he is still in control of my life work trip or not.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Celebrate Being Mom Daily

Fifteen years ago, I woke up Mother’s Day morning, satup in bed, and lost everything I had ate the night before.  As I made way to the bathroom to clean myself up I could barely stand up, scared to
death of what was going on, I was rushed to the emergency room.  At five months pregnant, I was well past morning sickness, I had no fever, and there was no explanation for continuous vomiting.  The ER staff begin a routine assessment; check my heartrate, blood pressure, and temperature.  All was good, so they moved on to check baby.  The next thing I heard was “I can’t find baby’s heartbeat” another nurse raced to the room, they pressed, prodded, and turned me - nothing, no heartbeat.  My heart sank, I laid there thinking that my first ever Mother’s Day would also be my last Mother’s Day.   Several hours later and after an excruciating “backwards” ultrasound as they called it, they found baby’s heartbeat and she was healthy and hiding from them.  That day when I heard the “whoosh whoosh” of her heartbeat come over the ultrasound speaker, I vowed I will always celebrate being a Mother, even on the worst days.  
Being Mom is a tough job, no lie, I have shed a many of tears over my now fourteen and ten-year-old babies. I have also busted out thousands of laughs and beamed full of love when they remind me of my duty here on Earth. 
As Mom, I celebrate big thing like making the Volleyball Team, Color Guard Squad, Honor Choir, and the BUG Club.  Then I celebrate the important things like making it to work on time fully dressed in matching shoes (don’t judge me), remembering to pay my kids school lunch account after the 3rd reminder call, and not forgetting pajama day or not getting pajama day mixed up and sending my kid to school the wrong day of the week in pajamas (again don’t judge me).  
This week as we approach that one day of the year that the nation celebrates the importance of Moms – instead of just celebrating that one day a year, remember to celebrate being Mom daily and the little and big hills that you climb, as those are the important days in life.  
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s no matter what your Mom life is like!

 (this editorial was originally featured in The Banner Press, please support our local paper) 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Stop, Think, Don’t Trash My Community

As I took a stroll through Twin City Park this past Saturday afternoon with my young son I was greeted with some creative sidewalk chalk art; just not the kind of art I wanted my child to see.  Someone had kindly drawn a version of a male body part and wrote some not so nice words on the side of the public restroom in the city park – ya know the place where families go to play.

Daily as a community leader I hear, there is nothing to do in this community, why can’t we have more nice things…., you all need to clean this place up!  Yes, we do!  However, so do you! And you need to quit destroying what we do have! 

Ya see, our community really is a beautiful community full of beautiful people, beautiful sights, and oh do have some people that know to cook!  And then…. we have the not so nice creative artist that like to destruct our community, leave their ugly mark on the side of public places, and then complain about “we got nothing nice here”. 

So, to those artists that want to destruct instead of construct, I challenge you to meet me in the park and do some real art – the kind of art that good for everyone.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Marble Hill - love it or leave it

 (this editorial was originally featured in The Banner Press, please support our local paper) 

In recent days there has been a bit of smack talking on the ol' Facebook about the community of
Marble Hill.  Sigh.  In fact, the smack talk was downright disgusting; pointing out names, businesses, and community leaders with accusations that unprovable and distasteful.  

For once, my name did not make that list (I think), but I know some that did.  Either way, the slander and rude remarks were uncalled for and disrespectful not only to the ones mentioned but to our community. 

We are a small town, ya know the place that everyone knows everyone, and knows everyone’s business.  Rumors often spread quickly - unless it is good news, then ya can’t even get a few Facebook likes.  

As I stood waiting for one of my kids at one of their events, someone asked “did you see that page, do you know who did it” and I replied “someone who needs to move away from Marble Hill” - yep I said it!  If you hate our town so much that you can’t see all the good, you need to move away!  

Over the past year, there has been a real community togetherness, people working with people for the greater good.  Granted we may not be moving thousands of people to our town or opening giant businesses, but we are chipping away one brick at a time to a new tomorrow.  

To the people that put in the amount of effort to create profiles, post on websites, and begin long forums regarding how awful our town is, I challenge you to invest your time, talent, and effort to a new tomorrow. 

There are dozens of small groups, organizations, churches, 4 area schools, and your next door neighbor that are begging you for help.  

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Becoming a Minimalist in a Cluttered World

I crave clean spaces!  I enjoy the uncluttered areas of my home; give me a large empty room with no junk and I feel like I am on top of the world. 

The problem is my family is the opposite; I have diagnosed them as hoarders of junk.  If you walk into my daughter's room right now it looks like Walmart threw-up in there!  Junk Junk Junk!  Everywhere!  No doubt there is loads of unfolded laundry mounding in the corner.

Friday night I made the decision I was going to get rid of my living room furniture!  I was tired of cleaning around the massive, overstuffed, uneasy to clean, awkwardly shaped beast, known as my couch and chair.

When I would look at these pieces of furniture, I would envision the granola bar wrappers, the dirty socks, and the candy wrappers that had been stuffed down in the crevices of the couch.....this made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  Hiding clutter inside of clutter!

Moments after I posted on Facebook begging for someone to take this nuisance off my hands, I got the first text, let me see your new furniture.  Umm...I haven't bought any furniture yet!

Ya see I am on a mission to find the exactly perfect piece of furniture!   In my mind, I have this perfect idea.  The furniture will be clean, harsh, with straight lines.  It will be resistant to hiding dirty socks, empty wrappers, and TV remotes.  It will sturdy and bounce resistant. It will match everything I put in my living room at all times.

So since my list is strict and hard to find, to the great embarrassment of my kids, I have moved our patio furniture inside to act as my minimalist furniture until I find or create that perfect piece.

Their response to our makeshift furniture.